January 25, 2016
UK Government's Science Office released a report Distributed ledger technology: beyond block chain, setting out how distributed ledger technology could transform the delivery of public services and boost productivity. The technology could be used as a more reliable way to deliver services compared to the current, centralized systems in place.
A distributed ledger is a database that can securely record financial, physical or electronic assets for sharing across a network through entirely transparent updates of information.
Its first incarnation was ‘Blockchain’ in 2008, which underpinned digital cash systems such as Bitcoin. The technology has now evolved into a variety of models that can be applied to different business problems and dramatically improve the sharing of information.
Knighted in 2009, Professor Sir Mark Walport is the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and the Head of the Science and Engineering Profession (HoSEP). Alongside managing the Government Office for Science, the GCSA has a clearly defined role within the UK Government. Sir Walport is responsible for providing scientific advice to the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet as well as advising the government on aspects of policy on science and technology.
Sir Mark Walport argues in his report, that Distributed ledger technology provides the framework for government to reduce fraud, corruption, error and the cost of paper-intensive processes. It has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust. It has similar possibilities for the private sector.
Source: Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond block chain, A report by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services.
Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, said in the report:
Government wants to make sure the UK is at the forefront of using emerging technology to improve public services. The UK is well-placed to realise the full potential of this technology, and Sir Mark’s report clearly sets out how we can use these new tools to transform and streamline their delivery.
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Matt Hancock, said in the report:
Sir Mark’s report provides a clear set of recommendations and I am delighted we are leading the way.
Digital transformation is central to our reform of the public sector, helping deliver better services at a much lower cost and improving the relationship between the citizen and the state. With our world-class digital capability and strong research community, the UK is well placed to reap the potential benefits of distributed ledger technology.
Interest in blockchain has been coming in from every corner of the world with major ones being banks and technology providers. Banks’ interest in bitcoin blockchain is seeing a huge uptick with the exploration of potential use cases for the distributed ledger system (blockchain technology). Along with the banks, the government should begin trials of distributed ledger technology to see how usable it is.